Why Do Hunting Dogs Point

  • Breeds that do not hunt may also raise a paw and point for a number of reasons.
  • Dogs and their handlers can work together more effectively when they point.

You can be playing in the yard or taking your dog for a walk. The dog abruptly stops moving. They stand still, straightening their nose, lifting their tail, and fixating on one spot. One front foot lifts off the ground and bends up into a point almost robotically.

This posture, graceful and exact, is not accidental. What causes dogs to mimic statues?

In actuality, pointing has long been an instinct. Breeders of hunting dogs have used this technique for years to assist owners find game and put food on the table.

Pointing The Way

Even though you might not require your dog to search food, if he notices anything moving, he might pose with his paw folded and hung in the air.

“According to Diane Townsend, president of the American Pointer Club, if the dog is a pointer, he will pick up a scent and lift one foot to point in the direction of where he scents prey. “Nothing in this breed comes more naturally than to point.

Dogs who stand in this manner are signaling to their owners that a bird or small game is nearby. The dog smells the air to find the animal’s scent that is being carried by the wind.

The same point position will be held by other AKC pointing breeds that have been developed and trained for hunting over many generations in Europe or Great Britain. Among them are, among others:

Why do dogs raise a paw when they are hunting?

All dog owners dream of penetrating their beloved dog’s mind and learning what thoughts they are having. Even though it’s not possible, understanding canine body language can help us get a little bit closer. Have you ever given the reason a dog lifts a paw any thought?

This behavior can be explained by a number of factors. Understanding the pattern requires that you become adept at interpreting the subtle cues your dog sends you through their body language. When our dogs make gestures, we should pay attention to what they are trying to say.

Your dog is injured

Raising a paw as a result of an injury should be the first possibility you rule out. Your dog will lift the wounded limb if they have a cut, muscular injury, a broken bone, or an uncomfortable surface like scorching asphalt or salt sprinkled in the winter. Other unsettling signs like whining or shivering could also be present along with the behavior. Take your dog to the vet right away if there are no obvious injuries or bleeding on your dog’s body and you’re not sure how serious the issue is. Always choose safety over regret.

Your dog is focused

Breeds of hunting dogs including the English Pointer, Beagle, English Spaniel, and Bloodhound frequently raise their concentrated paws. When a dog elevates its front leg, it indicates that it is intensely concentrated on something and is awaiting the ideal opportunity to begin chasing the target.

The behavior of raising their paw as part of the hunting sequence will develop in a dog that has been properly educated to function as a hunting animal. Lifting the paw in this instance is a natural reflex because the behavior is inherited from them.

Your dog is anxious

Non-hunter dogs’ lifting of the paw may indicate emotional states including stress, worry, or fear. Your pet can be in an awkward circumstance where they feel uneasy. When you see your dog responding in this way, try to remove them from the situation, take them outdoors for a walk, get rid of the trigger, or divert their attention to a game or some sweet treats so they won’t feel uncomfortable.

It’s important to consider all of their body language, including the motions of their ears, tails, and eyes, in order to decode their behavior. The frequency and power of the various signals should also be noted. Your ability to comprehend your dog will improve the more carefully you pay attention to the small nuances.

Your dog is intrigued

A paw raise might also be seen positively. It may be a sign of interest and expectation that is frequently followed by a head tilt. Dogs used to do this when they were anticipating a happy event, such as when you were chatting to them while holding their favorite toy in your hand or, even better, when they were anticipating the delectable sandwich piece that would fall to the ground. They are really eager to consume this delicious treat!

Your dog wants your attention

The other reason your dog raises a paw is most likely an effort to get your attention. Their front leg might be raised and positioned on your knee. They’ll wag their tails and give you puppy eyes in order to get you to pet or play with them. Over time, when your attachment grows deeper, they typically exhibit this behavior.

On the other hand, your dog can be signaling to you that they messed up by elevating their paw. Better make sure your shoe is still there and that they didn’t leave any nasty surprises in the house!

Observe, analyze, interpret

Consider all the indicators and conditions, including your dog’s behavior, the environment, any other humans or animals present, and the incident itself, before making assumptions about why your dog is lifting their paw. Therefore, careful observation and context analysis should come before any interpretation of your dog’s behavior. Keep in mind that each dog is an individual with their own personality and life experiences.

Are you curious in the body language of dogs? Visit our other pages to read about dog kisses or dog tail wags.

Are pointer dogs really pointers?

Gundogs of the pointing breed, often known as bird dogs, are frequently used to locate wildlife.


[2] Retrieving, flushing, and pointing breeds are the three categories into which gundogs are typically separated. [3] The dog’s natural tendency to point, in which it would stop and direct its muzzle towards prey, gave rise to the moniker “pointer.” The hunter is then able to go closer to their target and see where their quarry is. Breeders carefully selected dogs with strong pointing and backing instincts to produce pointers. Around two months old, they normally begin to develop their hunting instincts. [4] [5]

Do dogs all naturally point?

It is therefore not unusual for a dog who is not from a breed associated with pointing to point, even though their stances may be amateurish in comparison to trained pointers, either because this may be a behavior that just naturally appears in dogs or because somewhere in the dog’s heritage there was a pointing breed like a pointer.

Do canines react to pointing?

More than other animals, dogs are even better than chimps at understanding when we point. Therefore, your dog understands that he should look in the direction you are pointing when you are pointing at something or trying to instruct him where to go.

Your dog might understand that you are giving him a visual command when you point at something. According to a study, when their owner gestures to hidden treats, dogs can find them. Other animals are unable to perform this.

There are some signals you’ll spot right away when your dog realizes you’re pointing. Your dog will frequently become attentive when you point and turn to gaze in the direction you are pointing. Your dog will frequently select the treat that you point at when given a choice between two treats.

Your dog will wag his tail and get animated. He might start wagging his tail or elevate his ears in anticipation of what you are pointing to if he is excited about what you are pointing at.

Your pointing will assist your dog in locating the ball if he loses it during a fun game of fetch (most of the time). He might take your advice and utilize his keen sense of smell to track down the thing he wants.

When hunting, why do dogs lift one leg?

An animal’s front paw may raise in response to stress or fright. The animal may be in a circumstance that makes him or her feel uneasy or perhaps threatened. Lifting a paw in these circumstances is a sign of unease, therefore owners should make an effort to reassure the animals that they are not in danger. Your dog will feel more at peace if you speak in a soothing voice and offer mild prodding.

Why do dogs automatically extend their paw to you?

Dogs frequently offer their paw without being asked in order to attract attention, start a play session, express affection, or simply to try to be understanding. All of these actions are accompanied with the proper body language.

If your dog is giving you the paw because they want your attention, they may be content with a simple nod of recognition.

However, attention-seeking conduct goes further than that. Most likely, your dog wants to engage with you.

Give in to your dog’s silent plea for entertainment if you haven’t given him or her any mental or physical activity that day.

If the conduct develops into a recurring pattern, you could try to ignore it.

The same is true when starting a play session since you don’t have time.

My Rottweiler enjoys giving her paw whenever someone asks her to, and it’s clearly an invitation to play.

True, there are moments when your dog appears to have everything yet still maintains that intense eye contact while placing a gentle paw on your knee.

Every time my Rottie places a paw in my direction, she immediately moves to sit next to me or on my lap after the initial acknowledgement.

You might notice an apology from your dog if you’ve just reprimanded him or are otherwise upset with him.

This paw is most clearly not in a calm or even tense ready-to-play stance like the other paws.

Flat ears, a low-wagging tail, and sometimes even licking or avoiding eye contact are all characteristics of the sorry paw.

You can choose to ignore the behavior if it doesn’t become excessive, but don’t penalize your dog for past transgressions.

Dogs who have reached that stage are merely offering peace, and usually, that will end the conflict.

When I pet my dog, why does he push me away with his paw?

Having a dog has a ton of unexpected advantages.

Studies have shown that walking the dog increases happiness in both the dog and the owner and that dogs are quick to come to the aid of their owners when they are in need. But the close bond you form with your pet may be the greatest advantage of all. We now have even more evidence that this affection is reciprocal.

The majority of dog owners have probably had their dog paw at their legs. While you could dismiss this behavior as merely annoying, your dog is actually attempting to get your attention. Additionally, it may have a really lovely meaning.

To show our love and affection for our dogs, we pet them. Evidently, they act similarly. According to Rebecca Forrest, an assistance dog trainer, “by placing his paw on you as you are caressing him, he is further extending touch and reciprocating affection back.”

Your dog’s pawing at you may be regarded as a gesture of love, but it could also mean a lot of other things. Your dog can seem needy and trying to get your attention, which is a sign that you should give Fido a little more tender care. Your dog might be expressing his hunger. What is your dog actually trying to communicate, and how can you tell? Context is everything, though.

Forrest suggests that you “look at the rest of your dog’s body language.” It’s likely that he’s merely returning your love if you’re cuddling with him on the couch or massaging his belly. However, if your dog is exhibiting anxiety symptoms, “such as lip smacking, yawning, and flat ears,” it may indicate that he is uneasy and seeking attention. Forrest says it’s preferable to ignore persistent pawing if it’s related to food. If you let your dog choose when to eat, Forrest warns that he can gain weight and suffer health consequences.

Give your dog a loving head scratch the next time he places his paw on you as a sign of affection.

German Shorthaired Pointer

Since the German shorthaired pointer breed is so devoted to the breed standard, “pointer” appears in its name. This breed is frequently characterized as being passionate about bird hunting, whether on land or in the water. They are renowned for being a caring and loving partner both at home and on the job.

This type of pointer can be a terrific size to have in the field, the vehicle, or the house at 23 to 25 inches tall and 55 to 70 pounds. They frequently keep within a safe distance of the hunter and never stray too far.

German shorthaired pointers are excellent for long hunting days because of their high level of energy, which might make it challenging to rear them indoors without leading an extremely active lifestyle. As long as they are also receiving a lot of attention, they can hunt from twilight till dawn without becoming tired.

American Brittany

It is hardly unexpected that the American Brittany made this list considering how popular bird hunting has been since the 17th century.

The American Brittany pointer breed excels in assisting hunters and has a strong innate aptitude for both hunting and retrieving. They are both lighter and shorter than the other people on the list. They are a great choice for hunting because of their compact stature, which also allows for good agility and speed.

This pointer wants to be right in the middle of the action in addition to their quickness. The American Brittany is a fantastic choice for tough terrain and dense brush because of their armored skin and coat that protect them from sharps in the wild.

The American Brittany is, above all else, a caring and dependable friend who will return home after a hunt and blend in with the entire family.

English Setter

Another sweet and affectionate breed that effortlessly transitions from sofa dog to hunting buddy is the English setter. The English setter, which is frequently described as graceful, emulates the royal family and hunts with tremendous regality.

Due to their speed and stamina, English setters can cover a lot of ground while hunting. This is another breed of pointer that stands between 23 and 27 inches tall and weighs between 45 and 75 pounds.

Look no farther if you’re seeking for an upland hunting dog. The term “setter” derives from the breed’s natural tendency to recline or sit while smelling birds.


The Vizsla is a medium-sized pointer breed that was developed in Hungary for hunting. Since they lack an undercoat and have a short coat, they will thrive in warmer climates. Wirehaired Vizslas are on our list of the “5 Rare Bird Hunting Dogs” because they may perform better in colder climes.

The Vizsla is a fantastic early- to mid-season pointer breed for waterfowl since it thrives in aquatic surroundings. They were first employed as bird-drivers and helped Hungarians survive numerous conflicts by luring birds into nets.

Wirehaired Griffon

When it comes to these pointer breeds, the wirehaired griffon is the undisputed master of all trades. They track effectively, aim well, retrieve naturally, and like both wet and dry hunting for anything from small game to game birds.

This type of pointer dog prefers to hunt in cooler climates because of the longer, wiry coat that it develops. They are excellent home dogs because they are very devoted to their immediate family, but they can take some time to warm up to new people.

They’re a fantastic all-around option for anything you’re aiming to perform because to their medium size and adaptability to all different hunting styles.


The Weimaraner is conceivably the only breed to surpass the wirehaired griffon as the most adaptable pointer breed. The larger animals that these dogs were originally trained to hunt included deer, bear, and wild boar. They must be trained from an early age if they are to be used for hunting because they have an instinct for pursuing game.

The Weimaraner is a large breed of pointer that can grow to be up to 27 inches tall and as heavy as 80 pounds. They are recognized for their short, ghost-like gray coat and shadow-filled eyes in addition to their stature. They were developed to be able to do it all for the kings and queens of ancient Europe, and they can still do it all for modern hunters.

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is the last breed of pointer dog on our list. Compared to most other pointer breeds, this stunning black-and-tan breed can travel far farther from the hunter. But it shows a lot of endurance and patience throughout the day.

Their innate ability to point and retrieve makes up for their daylong sluggish pace. They make excellent companion animals but require careful training because they retain their puppy characteristics for a very long time.